Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Feisty Bento #239: Super Quickie Bento

Super quickie bento, as I'm still feeling under the weather... in fact, I'm dizzy and want to just lie down right now, but alas, I've got the commute home to think about...

Left to right: World's Best Chicken Salad; Trader Joe's brand dolmas (dolmades or stuffed grape leaves, depending on where you're from)

As for the stuffed grape leaves, it was unfortunate that the first one I took out of the jar (not pictured here) was super veiny, and really unpleasant to bite into, ew.  Since then, the leaves haven't been quite as veiny but still veinier than I'm used to (usually, I think they are completely de-veined so that it's a smooth bite, nothing to really bite THROUGH, per se).  The taste is fine otherwise: a bit mushy, as expected from grape leaves that are shelf stable and filled with just rice and lemon juice.  Tasty, but nothing to blow your senses.  I think it was only $2.99 a jar though, so not a bad idea for a staple in your fridge for a quickie bento like this morning's for me. 


Monday, October 20, 2008

Feisty Bento #238: I am officially sick

I am feeling under the weather, so this is a late and quick post...

Top tier: Caesar salad leftovers from a restaurant, review to come
Bottom tier: Grilled multi-color peppers; sauteed Napa cabbage; World's Best Chicken Salad

That's what I'm naming my new recipe for chicken salad.  I will be posting the recipe on Friday for Recipe Fridays over at Feisty Foodie, so stay tuned. 


Friday, October 17, 2008

Feisty Bento #237: Getting sick...

Top tier: Assorted pickled veggies; scattered cabbage & sausage; small cup of roasted tomatoes; mango pudding
Bottom tier: Grilled peppers; container of honey mustard for the sausage & cabbage; more sausage & cabbage

I'm coming down with something (I guess I'll make this on Saturday...) and very annoyed with a few things right now.  So this is it, but have a great weekend!!!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Feisty Bento #236: More again yes the same

I admit, I bought a good amount of bento stuff during my SF 2k8 trip.  I didn't take a big shot of all my bounty spread out on the bedspread this time, and it's so much fun making you wait and doing slow reveals!!!  I'm evil, but this is in part due to Cookie, who occasionally emails me around noon to ask me "What, no bento?  Why haven't you posted it yet?  WHAT DO YOU HAVE FOR LUNCH?" but has been swearing since forEVER that she's going to get a camera and start posting her own bento.  Uh huh.  I'll believe it when I see it...

I love bento shopping in SF.  A reader emailed me recently asking if there were any bento shopping tips I could give her for an upcoming trip to NYC.  But then she said she was from somewhere near the Bay Area, and I told her, "No... really?  No way!  Don't bother bento shopping here.  Everything's overpriced and there's nothing you can get here that you can't get in SF for $1.00 or $1.50."

For example, I bought this Strawberry Candy set - bento, matching fork, matching bag, matching band, for $1.50 each piece.  That comes out to $6.00 total.  I don't think I could even find this here - if I did, it'd be everything altogether, for hmm $8 or more?  Maybe $10, since my first bento set was $17.99 (no utensils, just the bag and the boxes), and my second one was $17 (two tier box, plain band, bag).  Yeah.

Top tier:  roasted grape tomatoes; cut up steak
Bottom tier: bok choi salad (last of it, boohoo); pickled cucumbers and peppers and stuff; cabbage/sausage mix; honey mustard for the cabbage & sausage mix; grilled peppers

Mmm, I can't wait to go eat this, so I think I shall!!! 


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Feisty Bento #235: Same insides, different outsides

One of my latest bento purchase from my trip to San Francisco.  I haven't opened anything.  That's sad, isn't it?  This box holds 610 ml, surprisingly, since it looks small.  It's squat is all.  It was $1.50 at Daiso in Serramonte Center, Daly City...  and I admit, I mostly bought it because everything suddenly clicked in my head- well, it's a long story about how I cannot think outside the box for the life of me, sadly.  Anyway, I also bought it because Jenn always raves about these boxes

I had to buy the matching fork and bag, of course, but I didn't photograph those.  Hehe.  Jury's still out on these boxes, will have to wait until I've washed the box and used it a bit more ;)

Top tier: buttered mixed veggies; pork tenderloin with gravy; mango pudding; pickled cucumbers and peppers
Bottom tier: bok choy salad; roasted peppers

I told you, it would be more of the same all week.  Except this is the last of the pork and buttered veggies.  So I'll have a different protein tomorrow and possibly new veggies.  We'll see.  I'm in a real cooking mood.  Too much eating out lately...

Before I go, I wanted to alert you (because I'm nice like that, even though this decreases my chances of winning... maybe I shouldn't tell you... well, what the heck?) to a contest going on over at Not Exactly Bento.  One of my absolute favorite bento blogs, you should check out her site even if you don't bento or don't want to enter the contest cuz it's kick-butt.  (Keeping it G rated here.)  Seriously, it amuses me to no end that she frequently says "I'm not a good cook," but then wakes up at 4:38 am to make biscuits from scratch or makes gorgeous brownies... (I could swear she once posted about waking up early with a brownie craving and baking at 7 am but I can't find it, boo).  Anyway, I can't bake for crap, so her baking on the fly like it ain't no thang but a chicken wang?  IMPRESSES THE HELL OUT OF ME. 

Anyway, go enter her contest, and then stick around and see what else is bento'ing.  You won't be sorry you did :)


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Feisty Bento #234: Repeats

Hi guys, sorry for the late posting.  I was so caught up trying to write this post, I kind of forgot to post my lunch yesterday.  Ack.  That post was a total labor of love, dude...

Expect to see the same lunch for a while...

Top tier: buttered mixed veggies; pork tenderloin with gravy; roasted peppers
Bottom tier: bok choy salad; pickled cucumbers and peppers; cabbage & sausage mix


Happy bento!!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Feisty Bento #233: Leftovers Galore

Lots of recipes forthcoming for the items in this bento, but you're going to have to be patient... I am still slowly posting my SF 2k8 meals!  Patience...

Oh, it was a sister's-house-heavy-weekend, so these are almost all leftovers "stolen" from her house. :)

Top tier: Cabbage & sausage; pork tenderloin with gravy; mixed veggies with butter
Bottom tier: Pickled cucumbers; roasted peppers; bok choy salad (I am so excited about this recipe, I can't wait until I make it so I can post about it and give some notes!)

Happy bento!!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Feisty Bento #232: Something old looks like something new

Top tier: mixed veggies, miso mushrooms, mango pudding, caramelized onions
Bottom tier: spicy chicken & bean stew; pesto pasta salad

Aren't those mixed veggies so pretty?  I don't remember the brand, but I bought this 16 oz. bag of mixed veggies because they have lima beans in it, too, and I like lima beans (there used to be a snack, I have no idea where I got them, but it was dried lima beans with a bit of salt, and they were delicious, wish I could find them again now!).  Anyway, I just popped them in a bit of boiling water with salt for about 2 minutes, then drained it and tossed it with butter.  I am so happy they put corn in there, since (aside from my love affair with corn recently, see all the corn in this box?) the colors just pop with that bit of yellow.

The caramelized onions are leftover from the steak dinner I made on Friday night.  That's the last of the chicken stew, but not the last of the pasta salad, so it may make one more appearance here...

By the way, I have one tip/suggestion for everyone, bento-maker or not.  If you're making a big pot of anything - stews, chilis, soups - to be eaten as bento or to be reheated throughout a week for easy dinners, the first night when you make it, cook it to the bare minimum of done-ness to your tastes.  As you reheat it, the veggies and most meats, starches will continue to cook, and that just leads to a disgusting mess at the end.  Well, some people like the texture at the end, but it really depends on you.  I'm just saying that this is a good rule of thumb because at one point, it'll be the perfect done-ness for you, but the other times will have to be palatable to you, and you shorten that time if you cook it to the right done-ness the first night (unless you're like me and like your veggies, meats and starches all just this side of al dente). 

This can also apply to making mini-meatloaves, meatballs, hamburgers, etc. or even steak, chicken, pork for bento.  I mentioned this practice here - I made pork chops and purposely undercooked all but one (the one I ate that night), so that when I microwaved them in the mornings before packing, they would finish cooking and not dry out.  I detest overcooked, dried out meats although I'm sure that is what some people's palates prefer.  This works for me; food safety note: every meat has a temperature it must reach internally to be considered "safe" - even pork has this, you can reach that temperature without cooking it totally white in the center.  As a somewhat confident/experienced cook in that arena, I am fine with taking pork, steak, even burgers off the fire before they are no longer pink in the center, and setting them aside to be stored in the fridge.  If you are not that comfortable, please Google the temperatures each meat must reach within and use a trusty meat thermometer to check when you've reached it.  Or please don't use this tip about purposely undercooking your meat; I'd rather eat dry meat (add some gravy or sauce in a cute little bottle! perfect excuse to buy more accessories) than get sick from improperly cooked/stored meat.

Anyway, that's my two cents today.  HAPPY BENTO!!!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Feisty Bento #231: Sandwich~!

Left to right: Mini-mango pudding; pesto pasta salad; chicken & chili stew; bread to make a sandwich with the chicken & chili stew


Happy bento!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Feisty Bento #230: BBQ-licious

Ahhhhhhhhh that's a bento that's more my style and speed, not quite as elaborate as yesterday's... all leftovers (though some items were cooked specifically for the purpose of bento). A lot of leftovers from last night's dinner - review to come on Feisty Foodie, I'm still working through my week in San Francisco & Napa Valley.

Top tier: Creamed spinach; baked beans with burnt ends; creamed corn
Bottom tier: Spicy Chicken & Bean Stew; pesto pasta salad; pulled pork

Mmm, how I love BBQ in all forms.

Happy bento!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Feisty Bento #229: Gorgeous Bento & Contest

I am immensely pleased with my bento today. Look at it! Wouldn't you be, too? I can't wait to eat it, even though it is smaller than I'm used to. I love the cheery yellow box (new purchase from my recent Bay Area trip, which I will be talking about in detail one of these days!). I love the colors and the food and everything, even though it's more frozen stuff than I'd have liked. Whatever. It's gorgeous!

I love it so much, I took extra pics. :)

Starting from the left is pork & chicken gyoza, with a small bottle of gyoza sauce tucked in. I've got sliced green bell peppers tucked in all around, a small mango pudding for dessert, and a few pieces of kara-age. In the bear cup is this spicy chicken & bean... stew? that I made last night, recipe to come on Feisty Foodie. It is DELICIOUS. The color scheme was so drab I had to punch it up with the bell peppers...

And look what I also picked up on my trip to San Francisco! I went into Mitsuwa and this was hanging on the freezer door by the frozen gyoza I adore (which is so much cheaper over there, it's not. even. funny). I had to bring one back, scan it, and share with y'all, but funny thing: Biggie just posted about this contest today, too! Go, enter! I'm entering this bento, totally (it's nearly all Ajinomoto products, actually - I do prefer their gyoza over JFC, and their kara-age is yummy but expensive. And since I'm eating their gyoza, I buy their gyoza sauce. Haha).

As always, peoples, HAPPY BENTO!!!